Monday, November 17, 2008

PR Idea of the Week

I may be dating myself but how many crisis communications presentations have I sat through that praised Tylenol for its handling of the tampering crisis.

Well, get ready to update your PowerPoint Crisis Guys, there's a new pain reliever case study in town. And this time, you have to share your story with a million social media wonks who will liven up their versions of the story with screen shots of the Twitter search.

Of course, I'm talking about this weekend's Mommy blogger Twitter stampede to condemn Motrin for what many found to be an insulting ad about the pains moms get from "babywearing."


Kevin Dugan said it best: People reading this on Monday are in one of two camps regarding Motrin Moms – in the know or 2.0 slow.

I am relatively new to Twitter and just happened to be playing around with it this weekend when I witnessed what can best be described as a "brand-wreck" in process. For me, it started with Peter Shankman and led to Twitter search where even a newbie like me could see that becoming the number one topic, beating out Obama and Thanksgiving, is a sign of something great or BIG TROUBLE.

I pulled up the #motrinmoms search thread but couldn't read through the postings fast enough, Twitter kept letting me know that new posts were arriving--at the rate of about two per second.

Finally, the people behind Motrin tracked down all the right lawyers, marketing directors, VPs, janitors, etc. to open the doors and put together an emailed statement apologizing for the ad. Oddly enough, they couldn't locate their web team, so the janitor was forced to just pull the plug on their Web site. Apparently, their Web team was out most of Monday attending remedial Twitter school and couldn't plug the site back in until this afternoon. [I'm joking, of course.]

Seriously, you have to wonder what was going on behind the scenes there at Motrin. In hindsight, the ad is gone, a halfway decent apology is posted in its place and Twitter has moved on to Mark Cuban's SEC troubles.

But for those hours on Sunday afternoon and into Sunday evening, the company really missed an opportunity to... well some would say they missed a chance to join a dialogue. I say, they missed a chance to "stay in character." To keep with the somewhat cheeky tone of the ad but use that to say, obviously we missed the mark here and we've worked all night to come up with a new ad--here it is. As it was, they appeared to have gotten scared of their newfangled Internet gang and just shut the whole thing down until they could catch up with the chief legal counsel at his weekend home and write a typical corporate response.

Note to PR and marketing people planning to dip your toe in social media and online marketing
1. Get the authority to deal with issues in real time.
2. Have SOMEONE keep an eye on your online brand at all times.
3. Get the home phone number and address of your Web guy/gal. And have several people trained to edit all parts of the site from anywhere.
4. Know that you can't just take your ball and go home if it doesn't work out the way you planned.
5. Never, never, never screw with the Mommy bloggers. They will hurt you.


  1. Holly, I agree completely with your assessment of the situation. Twitter this weekend, especially Sunday was like a train wreck - I just couldn't look away from the mess that mommybloggers were making of the Motrin brand! Yikes. Good lesson for all of us.

  2. Holly - Thanks for the link. The speed of this and it's occurrence on non-traditional channels was reinforced when Ad Age came out with the story on Tuesday....well after even us rubber neckers had moved along.

  3. I wish I would have saved it but I can just picture on the page the first WSJ story (probably around 1999) that solemnly reported that a company under scrutiny had not updated their Web page with information.

    Today, we are having fits if an organization is not keeping up with Twitter chatter over the weekend.

    What tremendous opportunities we have today as PR people to either be heroes or fail spectacularly.

  4. Holly,you are so funny. i enjoy your sense of humor...what a break it is for me!!!! Dianntha


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